The world has come to a gripping halt because of the coronavirus pandemic. Every business seems to be impacted by the lockdown and the publishing industry is no different. Authors have not been able to publish new work, the entertainment industry has halted their operations. Schools are indefinitely shut, leaving children stuck at home. If we’re feeling trapped, can you imagine what children are going through? Not being able to run out and play, meet their friends, attend (non-virtual) classes!
Just a few weeks ago, we heard about stars reading out the entire Harry Potter in a series on videos and podcasts online. And now, Harry Potter author, JK Rowling is set to release a new children’s book online, for free. Now isn’t that a treat for all mommies reading this? Rowling’s book is titled The Ickabog and this new book isn’t anything like Harry Potter, assures Rowling. “It is a story about truth and the abuse of power,” says the author on her website. The book was written by Rowling over a decade ago, she decided not to publish because, after the Harry Potter series, she wanted to foray into adult books.
A new children's book "The Ikabog" by J.K. Rowling @jk_rowling is a surprise gift for children in lockdown, FREE, published as a serial, from May 26-July 10, and in November as a book. Children are encouraged to submit illustrations! @Scholastic https://t.co/hYeXtU9BLf
— Post Book World (@BookWorld) May 26, 2020
Talking about the new book, Rowling says, “To forestall one obvious question: the idea came to me well over a decade ago, so it isn’t intended to be read as a response to anything that’s happening in the world right now. The themes are timeless and could apply to any era or any country. The Ickabog will be published for free on this website, in instalments, over the next seven weeks, a chapter (or two, or three), at a time. It isn’t Harry Potter and it doesn’t include magic. This is an entirely different story.”
The Ickabog was a book that Rowling read to her children every day before bed. And since we’re all stuck in lockdown, Rowling decided to make the book accessible to all the children of the world.
“A few weeks ago at dinner, I tentatively mooted the idea of getting The Ickabog down from the attic and publishing it for free, for children in lockdown. My now teenagers were touchingly enthusiastic, so downstairs came the very dusty box, and for the last few weeks I’ve been immersed in a fictional world I thought I’d never enter again. As I worked to finish the book, I started reading chapters nightly to the family again. This was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my writing life, as The Ickabog’s first two readers told me what they remember from when they were tiny, and demanded the reinstatement of bits they’d particularly liked (I obeyed)” she added.
Over time I came to think of The Ickabog as just for my family. The manuscript went up into the attic, where it remained until a few weeks ago.
This is the very dusty box I got down from the attic.
(It's a Net-A-Porter box and might well have held a premiere dress.)
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) May 26, 2020
A chapter or two will be released on The Ickabog website every weekday between May 26 and July 10. And what’s even more fun? Rowling is encouraging children to illustrate the snippets of the story and stand a chance to be published in the print edition of the novel. “The most exciting part, for me, at least, is that I’d like you to illustrate The Ickabog for me. Every day, I’ll be making suggestions for what you might like to draw,” says Rowling.
— The Ickabog (@TheIckabog) May 26, 2020
The author has already started receiving entries for the competition and you can see children actively participating too! Now, how cute is that?
When the book is published in November, Rowling is going to donate all royalties to help people who have been affected by the coronavirus.
Ready to dive into your childhood land of fantasies? Read the first chapter here.
Featured Image: NBC News / The Ickabog